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MakeOHI/O Hackathon Winners and Recap

A solar powered self-watering plant feeder, the ultimate decked-out cooler, an LED bike navigation system, even a color-coded Skittle sorter.

The annual MakeOHI/O hardware hackathon at The Ohio State University continues to earn its place as a growing venue for showcasing spontaneous student innovation. Over 24 sleepless hours, from March 4 to 5 at Knowlton Hall on campus, students designed tech ideas, working as teams to develop and then present their creations.

Watch a short video recap of the event here. 

Find pictures from the event here.

"This year at MakeOHI/O we had a lot more engagement with the community," organizer J. Martin Troth said. "We've actually grown a lot over last year, from about 125 to about 150 people this year."

Fellow organizer Jeff Hensal said planning and strategy improved this year as well, especially with help from sponsors like Bosch providing hardware for participants.

The event is part of the parent group OHI/O, which includes the upcoming HighSchool I/O and ShowOHI/O, all geared toward fostering a growing tech culture at Ohio State and beyond.

Corporations like Harris also help support the event, along with Battelle, Amazon Web Services, Bimba and the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Ohio State.

Hensal said his favorite project from among the winners was "The Coolest Cooler." 

"It has its own audio system built in. It has its own portable power, so no extension cord necessary. It has its own jumper cables," he said. "You can grab this thing out of your trunk and jump start your car directly from your cooler. To me, that was just really impressive and a top-notch project."

Jeff Hensal and J. Martin TrothTroth said he was impressed by a team that modified a Guitar Hero controller to power an LED lighted suit, complete with spiked helmet.

Another standout was the Skittle sorter robot, which spits out color-coded candy. 

Hensal said a new winning category this year was the Best Clutch, an award for the best unfinished project. Perhaps a team comes up with a great idea and design, he said, but time or other issues prevent it from coming together in 24 hours.

The Skittle Sorter GroupJulia Armstrong, an Ohio State ECE alumna and rep for Harris Corp., remains active in MakeOHI/O each year. She said the growth in the event is encouraging. She values being able to work directly with the students and seeing more freshmen get involved.

"We have a chance to see students work with one another, solve problems, work on teams," she said. "It's better than an interview. I hope more coporations sponsor these events going forward."

ECE alumni, Gus Fragasse and Eric Bauer, served as judges this year after years spent as organizers for MakeOHI/O (when it was called Makeathon).

Fragasse said it was interesting to come back and experience the event from a different perspective.

"Judging has kind of evolved from a chaotic state to very well run," Bauer said. 

This year's winning teams:

Top Tier Winners

Team: Personal Space Invaders, space monitor. Team members won a Makey Makey Kit


Team: Velodroid, cycling navigation system. Members won a Control Everything Current Kit.


Team: Team 0.041, 3D modeling from 2D images. Members won a BeagleBone Black.






Additional Winners






Best Technical Achievement

Team: SHOYU, a shaker shooter. Team members won a BeagleBone Green






Best Art Form and Function

Team: The Coolest Cooler, with speakers and so much more. Winners earned an EZ Cal Digital Caliper






Most Socially Responsible

Team: Grow Away, automated greenhouse. Winners earned an LuminAID Solar Lantern






Battelle Best Electro-Mechanical Project

Team: Electric Kettle, home automation system. Members won a robotic arm edge.






Harris Best Communication Project

Team: ShARD, Shard AR Display. Members won a Logitech K380 Multi-Device Bluetooth Keyboard.






Special Prize: Best Sprint

Team: WIE and CSE, The Skittle Sorter won a Cypress PSOC Kit






Special Prize: Best Clutch

Team: The Little Robot that Might, line driving automated car. Winners earned an INNOVA 3320 Multimeter.